How can you talk about Star Wars when the real world is such a mess?
The year 2020 has been “challenging” to put it in the most mild of terms. With the rapid expansion of the COVID crisis there is not a single person on the planet that has not been effected in some way. In addition to the unimaginable death toll from the virus and the financial implications of a world on lockdown, we are seeing the most dramatic events in the fight for racial equality across the globe in perhaps the history of the world. Violence in the streets of the greatest cities on Earth, people dying alone in hospital beds in quarantine and escalating tensions among families and friends around basic human rights. Our world is in a bad place right now and here I am spending time talking about a science fiction fantasy conceived 45 years ago in the mind of man in Modesto, California. How? Why?
People have always used fiction as escapism – a way to deal with the harsh realities of the real world. It would seem that now more than ever that would be a welcomed retreat. But, the gravity of what is happening in our real world has made even the most diehard fans, like myself, feel as though retreating into the Galaxy Far, Far Away is an undeserved respite. I feel as though if I turn my attention away from the real problems in the world, I am letting down my guard. If I talk about Star Wars instead of the “important” issues, am I turning a blind eye to the pain that surrounds me?
It took me several weeks, but the place I’ve landed is that Star Wars and the community of fans who love and support each other is more important now than ever before. You cannot win the fight if you are exhausted by it. The emotional strain that the Coronavirus, fight for #BlackLivesMatter and a world on the precipice of financial implosion is real. Very real. But, it is important that you don’t let the burden pull you under. Star Wars, to me, is a buoy in the rocky sea of the year 2020.
The timing of launching our network here at Beyond the Blast Doors has been literally a lifesaver. Myself and the six friends I’ve made over the past year and change created a place where we can support each other and create content about our favorite franchise. We decided if we teamed up, we could do more for our shows and more for the people who (surprisingly!) have become our fans. What none of us realized was that banding together would help us each emotionally. We keep our lines of communication wide open. Our love of Star Wars has been a door that opened our friendships, but the friendships have blossomed. In the short time the network has been in place, we’ve each had ups and downs. We’ve dealt with health, job and family issues – all exacerbated by the impact of COVID and the emotional strain of the ugliness in our world.
But without our love of this franchise, our escapism into it when we need it most, and the connection we all share through it, we wouldn’t have found each other, and I dare say, may not have successfully emerged or continue our fight through the challenges. We’ve been able to use each other for emotional support and to vent when needed. The amazing thing is, I’ve never met any of my BTBD family in person. We’ve all met through Star Wars social media and become close over text, Zoom and Twitter.
Good fiction and storytelling allows it’s audience to disappear into it. It provides characters we can identify with, shows us a struggle that can be overcome and provides hope that there is blue sky behind the foreboding clouds. Good franchises build armies of fans to support their product and support each other. The Star Wars fandom is generally made up of good people and the support of those fellow fans helps create a valuable respite. Recently we saw the entire fandom push back on a blatantly racist fan and stand unified against their ugliness. While many of us only watch the protests from a distance, the Star Wars fandom gives us a place to unite and say “not here, not now, not ever,” together in one voice. The power that comes from that unity is sometimes just enough to push you through one of those especially hard days.
So, yes, the real world is a very scary, angry and difficult place right now. It requires vigilance. It requires commitment to making it better. But the community surrounding George Lucas' socially aware fiction that we all belong to is a place to rest up for the fight, a port in the storm to remember you aren’t alone. So, keep your eyes on what matters (beating the virus, restoring our world for our children and demanding equality) but look to your friends to help you through and be there for them when they need it. Even if it's just to talk about Star Wars.
Thanks for being there for me! - @fletzerpete